26 August 2010

Much has been said and written about your purpose in life. In summary, there are two groups of people searching for their purpose in life. There are Christians whose purpose is defined by their relationship with Jesus, and there are those people in the secular world that will spend their lifetime trying to find what that purpose is.

Since our focus for this devotional is on the Christian purpose of life, we will not spend a great deal of time looking into their search for purpose for those who believe they have evolved from primordial goo, or “star stuff” because as the facts show, if evolution is true you have no purpose for living except to stay alive as long as you can. While staying alive is a worthy goal for anyone, it hardly has defines “purpose” when speaking about the meaning of life.

For some Christians the search in itself is what defines them. I submit that the search cannot be what defines you. Never giving up or never quitting is not what defines you. Sure these characters can bring a focus to the look of one’s character, but what defines a person must be far more than that. I’m ‘trying’. I’m ‘working on it’. I’m ‘looking’ are not characteristics I want to be known for. And do not settle any questions.

Some of you have taken a forty-day journey to figure out what that purpose really is. Others have been pushed by ‘prophets’ / ‘seers’ , church leaders and friends in the faith on making sure you know what your ‘gift’ is so that you can then figure out what God’s purpose is for you.


While most the traveling ‘prophets’ are charlatans that the Apostles warned us about, and your church leaders and friends probably have the best of intension for you, you do not need to know your ‘gift’, you do not need to spend forty-days trying to figure out your purpose, because God has already told us what it is.

Live to glorify God.

That’s it. That’s your purpose. You may choose or be called to do so in a plethora of different ways, but no matter what you do, you must do so to glorify God, for this IS your purpose in life.

As a believer we ultimately answer to God for all things. That being the case, why not use scriptures’ urging to live a holy and righteous life in service of God? We have been bought with a price. Our life is no longer our own. We have been called to glorify God – why not apply this biblical purpose for our lives to everything we do!?

We are encouraged to glorify God in unity, and with our words.
Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, 6 that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. [Romans 15:5-6]

We are told that there are people who have rejected God and/or are fallen away, and we have been told why:
“…because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” [Romans 1:21]

There are many other references and verses that support the same idea. And why should this be strange to us. God is simply encouraging us to do something that should be a natural reaction to a full understanding of our place in Christ. We are not our own, and we owe Him everything! To glorify Him for His work, and for the gifts that He has given us (freedom, peace, joy, salvation, equal inheritance, a heavenly homer and eternal existence with Him just to name a few) seems to be the least we can do, and more importantly, it should be something we desire to do!

Understanding how much we owe God, having a grasp of the depth of our depravity without Him, and getting just a nugget of truth of the penalty for our sin we that has been removed from us should blow us away, stop us in our tracks and have us fall to our knees in constant homage and thanks to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who have made this possible.

Glorifying God should come to us as a natural extension of our salvation and relationship in Him. It should be our individual purpose, and it should be our purpose to cause this glorification of our savior to grow and accelerate in our lives. It should always come first, it should always be foremost in our minds, and active in our talk and walk.

May all the glory be His.

24 August 2010

Diaspora: Bringing Home the Spiritual Pilgrims

I Peter 1:1-2

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.

I was reading in 1 Peter last night at dinner time, and was just sort of captivated by the opening verses. In the text Peter introduces himself and then addresses the letter to, “…the pilgrims of the Dispersion”.

Intrigued, I asked my daughter Kayden to tell me what that meant. We bantered the words pilgrim and dispersion around a bit and she got it all figured out. She’s a bright one. But in the process of doing such, it just made for me a realization of the heart or condition of some of God’s creation. It is of this that I wish to speak today.

Pilgrims are pilgrims for different reasons. The Pilgrims we first think of here in the US were puritan Christians who were ready to try anything, go anywhere to be able to be free to celebrate their faith and love God as they saw fit; unencumbered by any King or government. Other pilgrims return to their places of worship or Holy sites to pay homage and give their respects not only to those who had come before them, but to the God that created and sent them.

The Dispersion of which Peter is speaking of are Romans and Greeks alike that were forced out of most of the major cities of the area because of their belief in “The Way”. The Way was the early mocking designation for Christianity while it was still considered a red-headed step child of the Jews; it was a “sect”, not a religion of its own. No matter how you look at it, it is a people of faith returning to their root. Jews immigrating back to Israel to this day are referred to as the Diaspora. What was true in Peter’s day is still on-going today.

How many people do you know that are spiritual Diaspora; people who were born into a family of faith that have been ‘forced out’ by the world? How many people do you know of personally whom you’d like to see make a pilgrimage to faith? To make a decision to return to a life of faith, and committing one’s self to Jesus is the most important decision anyone can make. But it requires a pilgrimage of heart.

Peter knew this. He writes this letter to those people who have been forced to leave the comfort of their fellowships to encourage them. He goes on to tell them in verses 3-9:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.

What wonderful words. These are the words that we too can use for the Diaspora in our lives. For those whom we know that are pondering making that pilgrimage of faith, remind them the power of salvation is with the God that they have left. That because of Jesus death and resurrection that they too inherit what is incorruptible. And perhaps more than anything remind them that they are not alone in their trials, that they are sure to come, and that they are made perfect through them because it gives them opportunity to express the genuineness of their faith.

I’d be remiss at this moment if I did not remind you that to take God’s word to the spiritual Diaspora in your life is to not shine the genuineness of your faith. Show them the love that they have not seen, and that you have. Remind them that in spite of the fact that you may not have seen Jesus, that you have seen Him work in your life, and that He wants to work in theirs. Help bring the Diaspora home.

23 August 2010

Discipleship Part 3: Lead in Truth

1 Corinthians 16:13

Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.

Our call to make disciples is not just for the benefit of bringing others to a salvational relationship with Jesus. While this is the great commission, to make disciples of all the earth, the rewards are double (for those who are sharing as much as those who are receiving). We are blessed as much to put forth the effort to make disciples as much as they are blessed by hearing God’s good news for them, and the doctrine that God has put forward in His Word. But therein lies the focal point doesn’t it? If what we are sharing is not God’s Word – is not Truth, than what are we doing?

In this third installment on the making of disciples I bring up the point of truth. We might be the best at leading by example. We may also be fantastic communicators or orators of unrivaled skill. But if we are not teaching the truth of what God has said through His Holy Word, and if we are not leading by example in a way that communicates that truth, than our work worse than nothing; it is a profit to the enemy.

For the post-modern thinker, truth is a relative term. In other words, what’s right for you is not what’s right for me. Something that is wrong in my culture or society may be perfectly acceptable in a society somewhere else. In doing so what we have done is removed the truth of God’s word being perfect, absolute, and the same yesterday today and forever, and allow man to become our own god, deciding in our own hearts what is right and wrong.

I know I have stated before that while there may not be a line item answer for ever every question you have in life as to whether that action is right or wrong; no biblical passage for example that says, “Thou shall not spend too much time on the Wi”, there is, in the balance of scripture- the whole council of God, enough information there to give you God’s character on every situation possible. Remembering love, grace and an affront towards legalism, we can answer every situation in life that comes up with a Godly response that pleases and glorifies Him. However, if our foundation is not in truth gained from the uncompromised Word of scripture, than our foundation is on sand, and whatever we build will fall. Including the lives of those we are hoping to disciple to Christ.

Truth is truth. That’s why they call it “truth”. It is absolute, it is unchangeable, and it is spoken to us in scripture. We must remember that God’s word is good for reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16). Use truth to the glory of God, never to the detriment of grace, and never in any way other than in love (Ephesians 4:15). A teacher is of no value to a disciple if what he is being taught is not true. We all need to place so much value on the truth that we are afraid to speak if we think we might be sharing something that might lead one astray. Remember, it’s OK to say, “I don’t know”, as long as it is followed by, “but I’ll find out!”

A spirit of truth is a spirit that desires to know more. A spirit of truth is a spirit that desires to learn more. A spirit of truth is a spirit that is not satisfied with a knowledge that is less than assuring, less than confident, or a heart whose fire burning within can only be quenched by knowing God more closely and more intimately than ever before thought possible.

Standing firm in the truth should not be intimidating, it should be empowering. You have the truth. The truth has set you free. Go free others by using these principles to be better mentors and leaders. Free them by teaching, leading by example, and being firm on the truth of God.